Following discussions with New Europeans, the European Commission (Justice Department) are to investigate cases of European expat voters being denied the vote in last week's European elections.
Hundreds of cases have already been reported of EU expat voters arriving at polling stations to be told that they were not eligible to vote despite having registered. It is feared that the cases may run into the thousands.
British expats living in other EU member states have also been turned away when they tried to vote.
The European Commission said in a statement to New Europeans:
"We are looking into the circumstances in which EU citizens were unable to vote in the European elections in the UK.
The Commission is committed to safeguarding that all EU citizens can effectively exercise their political rights across the European Union.
In particular, the Commission aims to ensure that, in line with EU rules (Directive 93/109/EC):
* Member States' authorities provide for the registration of EU nationals residing on their territory to vote in European elections sufficiently in advance of polling day and under the same conditions as nationals and
* Member States should inform EU nationals in a timely and appropriate manner of the conditions to register and vote
"We will look into the matters raised with us by New Europeans and look forward to receiving further evidence and information relating to individual cases as part of our investigation."
All those who were denied a vote should make make a formal complaint directly to the European Commission, as well as to their local council.
New Europeans are in discussion with the Electoral Commission about the need for an urgent investigation of the circumstances surrounding these individual claims.
Copies of the complaint should be sent to the Electoral Commission in the UK for information.
If available, the following documents should also be scanned and forwarded as part of the complaint:
- Individual polling card
- Any other official correspondence received connection with eligibility to vote in the European election
- Report of any comments made by officials at the polling station
Speaking after his discussions with the European Commission, Roger Casale, Chair of New European said:
"Whether it is one case or several thousand this is very serious matter because it amounts to the denial of a person's democratic right. Now that we have established a procedure for investigating individual cases, it is important that we establish very quickly the extent of this problem.
The Electoral Commission needs to make clear how they intend to prevent such occurrences in the future. Interest in the elections will soon dissipate and many EU expat voters will be disinclined to vote next time unless the Electoral Commission acts swiftly to demonstrate its commitment to restoring confidence in the system.
Longer term, reform of the procedures themselves is clearly needed and New Europeans will continue to work with the European Commission and with our partners in civil society including European Citizens Abroad and Europeans Throughout the World to this end"
A number of cases have also been raised directly with New Europeans and we are responding and making further representations accordingly.
For further information write to: [email protected]
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